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Paul Carr's media experiment bought out by PandoDaily

Posting in Technology
Paul Carr's digital and print media startup Not Safe For Work Corp, which put its satirical, long-form articles behind a paywall, has been bought out by tech news site PandoDaily.

Under the deal, key staff including Mark Ames, Brad Jonas, David Sirota and Yasha Levine will form the core of PandoDaily's new investigative reporting unit headed by Carr. Existing PandoDaily staff will also work with Carr on more long-form investigative pieces.

The NSFWCorp brand, voice and site will disappear. It's subscriber-only print edition will not, although it's undergoing a makeover and a slight pivot. The monthly magazine, which usually featured two long stories as well as illustrations, will now be a quarterly publication called PandoQuarterly. The new publication, which will be bigger and include more illustrations and photos, will aggregate stories from Pando and include new features. The subscription rate will remain $84 a year.

Carr wouldn't disclose the acquisition price, but did say "Pando is getting the whole company; all assets." What that means is PandoDaily, founded by Carr's friend and former TechCrunch colleague Sarah Lacy, will gain NSFWCorp's talent and the revenues from its print editions, which has between 6,000 and 7,000 paying subscribers.

Carr has often said, including in a lengthy interview with me back in August, that the company was at risk of going out of business. NSFWCorp purposely did not have any advertisers and placed its content behind a subscriber paywall. The company did raise upwards of $1 million from investors including Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh's Vegas Tech Fund, but it's long-term viability really hung on its ability to get at least 10,000 paid subscribers.

Carr says he will likely split his time between Las Vegas, NSFWCorp's birthplace, and San Francisco, where PandoDaily is based.

NSFWCorp was initially branded as The Economist meets the Daily Show (or journalism with jokes) and featured long-form articles on a range of subjects from the subprime mortgage desert suburb Victorville and Sen. Cory Booker to horsemeat and alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The topics were hardly in line with Pando's coverage of Silicon Valley and tech startups.

Lacy, who published an announcement on PandoDaily earlier Monday, wrote that despite their disparate editorial voices, the companies have always shared the same core values. Once NSFWCorp began to write more about tech, specifically the cultural and political consequences of tech, Lacy saw the two companies were more closely aligned than ever before.

She wrote over at PandoDaily:

It was NSFWCORP’s shift towards focusing on the rising power and influence of technology entrepreneurs that ultimately made this deal happen. At lunch a few weeks ago, Paul told me NSFWCORP was considering moving more aggressively in the direction of tech-related, long-form, investigative reporting. I was struck by how similar our editorial mandate was becoming. Stories like Silicon Valley’s increasing power in Washington and the NSA scandal were broadening our coverage at the same time NSFWCORP was seeking to narrow its coverage. We were meeting in roughly the same place.

Photo: NSFWCorp

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— By on November 25, 2013, 1:58 PM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure